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Shells from the collection of Gustavus Brander

© 2003 The Natural History Museum

 

Height: 14.000 cm (Murex pyrus Solander 1766; The Pear Murex-shell)
Depth: 6.000 cm (modern name: Sycostoma pyrus (Solander, 1766))
Height: 14.000 cm (Murex pyrus Solander 1766; The Pear Murex-shell)
Depth: 6.000 cm (modern name: Sycostoma pyrus (Solander, 1766))
Height: 14.000 cm (Murex pyrus Solander 1766; The Pear Murex-shell)
Depth: 6.000 cm (modern name: Sycostoma pyrus (Solander, 1766))
Height: 14.000 cm (Murex pyrus Solander 1766; The Pear Murex-shell)
Depth: 6.000 cm (modern name: Sycostoma pyrus (Solander, 1766))

Gift of Gustavus Brander, 1765

On loan from the Natural History Museum GG8335 (Murex pyrus), GG21014 (Murex minax), GG8337-9 (Strombus luctator)

Enlightenment: Natural world

    Shells from the collection of Gustavus Brander

    Collected near the sea cliffs at Highcliffe and Barton-on-Sea, near Christchurch, Dorset, England
    Eocene, 41.3 to 33.7 million years old

    Gustavus Brander (1720-87) found these fossil shells near his country residence at Christchurch in Dorset. He later gave them to the British Museum.

    Brander was a wealthy London merchant and antiquary of Swedish parentage. He was a Director of the Bank of England, a Fellow of the Royal Society and a trustee of the British Museum.

    Brander's collection is important because it was carefully catalogued, described and illustrated by Daniel Solander (1736-82), who was then working at the British Museum. The resulting work, Fossilia Hantoniensia ('Hampshire Fossils') of 1766, was the first to describe a collection of fossils using the new biological classification system devised by Carl Linnaeus (1707-78), of whom Solander was a pupil. The beautifully illustrated book is still consulted today.

    Solander was an extremely able scholar, who did much to further the reputation of the Department of Natural and Artificial Productions at the British Museum, where he worked until his death. His work there probably influenced the decision of the Royal Society to transfer its own collections to the Museum in 1781.

    D.C. Solander, Fossilia Hantoniensia collecta (London, 1766)

    W.T. Stearn, The Natural History Museum at, first published 1981 (London, NHM, 1998)

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